Anime Film Review: Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel

Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel is the second theatrical film in the Naruto franchise, and it was released to Japanese theaters on August 5, 2005. In the United States, the film first aired on Cartoon Network on July 26, 2008. This was followed by the DVD release on July 29, 2008.

Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel
Directed by: Hirotsugu Kawasaki
Written by: Hirotsugu Kawasaki and Yuka Miyata
Starring: Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura, Gamon Kaai, and Akio Nojima
Run Time: 97 minutes
Rated: TV-14

The film opens with a battle on a beach between the Sand Ninja and unknown warriors wearing bulky armor. As the Sand Ninja are becoming overwhelmed by these mysterious warriors, reinforcements arrive. The reinforcements are led by Kankuro and Gaara, and the tide of the battle turns. However, when the Sand Ninja shine a light on their retreating enemy, a large warship appears and begins firing. Gaara’s sand armor barely protects the Sand Ninja.

Meanwhile, Naruto, Shikamaru, and Sakura are on a mission to deliver a lost pet ferret to its owner. However, they are intercepted by Temujin, who gets into a fight with Naruto. The two are knocked off a cliff at the peak of their battle. As they fall, a giant ship appears. In the ship is a traveling caravan, and it turns out they are the people who had lost the ferret. The caravan takes care of Naruto and Temujin. At first, Naruto and Temujin don’t get along. However, as they are with the caravan, they learn to tolerate each other.

As Sakura and Shikamaru search for Naruto, Shikamaru comes upon a fortress. He finds a lab with children in capsules. He also sees two women who wear armor like Temujin’s, and they talk about the Gelel Stone. As the movie progresses, the audience learns more about the Gelel Stone, and how Temujin has a connection with it. Also, the storylines of the Sand Ninja and of Naruto and his friends converge together during the film.

Compared to the first Naruto film, the story of this film falls more into the “fantastical” side due to the Gelel Stone. Outside of that, though, this story does actually work well for the Naruto universe. It was also nice to see Gaara and Kankuro make an appearance in the film. However, it would have been kind of cool if the writer had found a way to include Temari, since she and Shikamaru always have fun interactions to watch. However, there is a scene where there’s an amusing interaction between Shikamaru and Temari’s brother, Kankuro. Of course, with this being a film for a Shonen Jump property, this film introduces characters and story elements that are never seen again in the Naruto series.

When watching the film, it was obvious that for the animation, a lot of effort went into rendering the backgrounds. Unfortunately, the animation of the characters was not as strong as in the first film. Shikamaru and Kankuro both received consistently bad animation. The animation for Sakura would fluctuate between being rather good to being very poor. While Naruto tended to get good animation, there were sections where he would occasionally get some bad animation. Gaara and the new characters all seemed to get consistently good animation. The inconsistent animation styles being used for the film does weaken it to some extent. If the animation had been better, I might have appreciated this film a little better than I do.

When VIZ Media released Legend of the Stone of Gelel on DVD, it was released as a two-disc set. The first disc contained the film, while the second disc had all the special features. When it comes to the audio on this release, there is supposed to be English 5.1, English Stereo, Japanese 5.1, and Japanese Stereo. However, if you select Japanese Stereo, it plays the English Stereo audio instead. The only way to hear the Japanese audio on this release is to select Japanese 5.1. This first disc also includes an audio commentary and Pop-Up Naruto Guides.

The second disc contains seven extras. The first is a 14-and-a-half minute long documentary called, “Creating the World of Naruto the Movie 2.” Over the course of this documentary, various people involved with the production (the Production Supervisor, a Co-Producer, the ADR Producer, the ADR Director, and the Associate Producer), as well as the English voices for Sakura, Naruto, Haido, Gaara, Shikamaru, Kankuro, Temujin, Kahiko, Fugai, and Ranke are interviewed. This is a pretty standard documentary for a VIZ Media release, so it was decent.

The second feature is a 22 minute documentary titled, “Write and Adapt like a Ninja.” Everyone from the first documentary, as well as a few additional staff members, talk about the steps that take place to produce the English dub of the film. They talk about the direct translation script, script adaptation, and the voice acting stage. The bulk of the documentary focuses on the voice acting. Again, this is a pretty standard documentary for VIZ Media.

The third feature is “Words From Japan.” This is an eight-minute interview with the Japanese Director and Character Designer. This feature is in Japanese with English subtitles, and has occasional scenes from the film in English edited into it. It was kind of interesting to get to hear the thoughts of the Japanese production staff about the film.

The fourth feature is a production art gallery, which is 18 pages of line art of the new characters introduced in the film.

The fifth feature is labeled as “Original Storyboards. This is done as a 31 minute slideshow, where each page of storyboard is only up for a couple of seconds before moving on to the next one. You really don’t have time to make out what it is you’re seeing before the slideshow moves on. Personally, I’m not a fan of these kinds of slideshows, since you don’t really get the time to truly see the storyboard before it moves on. While technically you can use the pause button on your DVD or Blu-ray remote, I prefer to have the ability to choose when I move on in a slideshow.

The sixth feature is “Original Japanese Movie Trailers.” All of the trailers are in Japanese, but there are no subtitles. The lack of subtitles can make these a little difficult to watch, because you have no idea what the narrator is saying. At least if you’ve seen the film prior to watching these trailers, you have some context for the scenes that you see in the trailers. This feature, which is all one chapter, runs for about eight minutes and contains 18 trailers in all. Some of the trailers are so similar to each other, that you swear that someone made a mistake and put the same trailer in several times in a row.

The final feature is the English trailer for the third Naruto film, Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom.

Even with its faults, this movie needs to be in the DVD collection of anyone who considers themselves a fan of Naruto, especially for fans who want to own every episode and every film released for the franchise.

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